#Me Too . . .
"They ask me to remember their memories, but I keep on remembering mine." - Lucille Clifton
He was her boss, the one whose bold signature was stamped on the checks she stood in line to collect from the cashier's office at 425 Locust Street. Twice a month, like clockwork. On the 15th and the 30th.
She drove straight to the bank after she tucked it securely in the inner pocket of the logo-embossed Coach handbag that had been a birthday gift from her husband two years ago. The first time she received her paycheck her eyes kept straying from the road ahead to peek into the pocket, once, twice, thrice to make sure, yes, it's still there. By the time she handed it over to the teller for direct deposit, her fingers were clammy from the effort of keeping it safe.
She was grateful for the job. Yes, she was. She'd sent out 50 resumes just like her college counselor advised her to do. "Keep trying," Mrs. Gomez said kindly, letting her wizened hand rest lightly on Anika's tightly clenched fist. Anika felt bereft when Mrs. Gomez removed her hand and forced herself to concentrate. "It's the bad economy, the recession, dear. Nobody's hiring." Especially, not anybody with an accent. Anika could hear her inner critic chiming in.
She didn't think she had a chance, not a real one anyway, at landing the associate position at Pillsbury and Sutro in downtown Walnut Creek. At the interview, she couldn't look into Jon Reynolds' baby blue eyes, knowing that the v's and the w's of her diction were blending maddeningly into each other that maniac morning. Instead, she let her glance travel down the sleeves of his crisp white tailored shirt and fixed her unblinking gaze on the "J" engraved on the onyx cufflinks he favored. Later she would learn that he possessed thirty of those custom-made shirts from Dunhill's, one for each day of the month.
The acceptance letter arrived a week later. Long after she'd given up hope of even being called in for a second interview, let alone an offer that was well above the pay grade for a fresh-on-board-brown-female lawyer, the title that her inner bitch had crowned her with. She'd thumped the air with a fisted hand when she read the number of zeros in the offer letter.
Somebody up there was looking out for them. She'd waited to call Arvind as soon as the clock struck 12 p.m. She could picture him punching out his time card to go for lunch. She's counted down the minutes, enough for him to get out of the heavy machinery building he worked in at the Tesla manufacturing unit until she couldn't contain the good news any longer.
"We'll be fine with the rent money this month and the next and the next, Arvind," she squeaked in high-pitched excitement. "I got a job offer from Pillsbury and Sutro!"
If she scrunches her forehead really tightly, she can still remember the glee in her voice, the relief in his, the edge of hysteria in their combined laughter, the way you feel when you realize how close to the edge of the cliff you really were. Yes, she can almost remember the elation of that moment. She can almost shut out the disgust, the nausea from that other memory, partially blurred, persistently pushed aside, now invading her conscious mind. Jon's yellow silk tie, hastily undone, crumpled white shirt flung in a corner, his belly heaving over hers. She'd been so afraid to look directly at him until senior partner, Jon Reynolds pinned his blue irises on her and guided her nerveless fingers to his swollen arousal.
Anika squeezes her fingers to her temples and closes her eyes painfully. Her inner bitch floats in soundlessly like an iceberg. And, you thought you got the job because you scored 100 out of 100 in American Jurisprudence class.